White Sox won't pick up Peavy's $22M option, which may aid a thin free-agent class

White Sox star right-hander Jake Peavy appears likely to become another very good starting pitching option in a thin free-agent class.

Word is the White Sox have signaled to Peavy they are unlikely to pick up his $22 million club option for 2013, meaning they'd pay the $4 million buyout and effectively make him a free agent.

The White Sox may yet try to re-sign Peavy after declining that high option. But it's not easy to envision them paying him enough to entice him to re-sign before the free-agency period.

There are no contract discussions ongoing, and the White Sox, who also have catcher A.J. Pierzynski, reliever Brett Myers, starter Francisco Liriano and third baseman Kevin Youkilis as potential free agents, are currently concentrating on trying to fight off the challenge from the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. The White Sox currently lead the division by two games. The White Sox's payroll may rise, especially if they reach the playoffs. After the 2011-12 offseason, they let longtime star Mark Buehrle leave and made cuts.

Peavy could be seen as the second-best free agent starter to Zack Greinke on the market as he's rebounded from a tricky shoulder surgery to go 11-11 with a 3.26 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 177 strikeouts in making the All-Star team. Strong seasons from the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse, the Yankees' Hiroki Kuroda and the Nationals' Edwin Jackson mean the category of free-agent starters isn't quite as barren as it once seemed. But it is far from deep. Lohse is having an especially good year and may receive some Cy Young support in the NL.

Peavy, who has moved back home from San Diego to Alabama, is said to have favorable feelings about the White Sox. But it's still rare to see players give up free agency.

"I think he likes it there,'' Peavy's longtime agent Barry Axelrod said by phone. "I don't know that anybody anticipated he would come back from that injury as he has. He likes his teammates. He likes the city. I think he's very happy with the manager and coaching staff this season. There' no downside. I think he'd like to be back there if they'd like to have him.''

Peavy's feelings are all favorable about Chicago, especially since the White Sox made the managerial switch from Ozzie Guillen to Robin Ventura. Though Peavy has been quiet about it publicly, word is he much prefers Ventura.

Peavy, still only 31, also loved his time in San Diego, where he won a Cy Young award, and is known to love the West Coast. But there should be plenty of choices for him, assuming he becomes a free agent.

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